The word “heliotrope” names at least two particular things in the world: a popular garden plant that turns its purple flowers toward the sun; and a mirrored instrument once used by land surveyors to reflect sunlight across long distances. As the title of a summer group show, the word is being creatively misread to encompass an array of visual motifs that address the sun and explore its numerous attributes.
In some of the works on display the sun appears in familiar pictorial guises – as a disc, an orb, a spray of radiance. In the hands of other artists, the sun is referenced obliquely, through its manifold effects on our terrestrial realm – warmth, illumination, rotation, nourishment.
Harnessing sunlight to more abstract ends, Igor Eškinja filters its potential destructive rays through finely cut stencils. Reacting with the lignin found in wood pulp, the sun yellows his paper supports into carefully modulated records of exposure, effectively redeeming an inherent vice that most conservators would seek to prevent.
The formal and metaphorical range of the works is wide, and is matched by a diversity of materials and processes, including novel approaches to painting, drawing, photography, and sculpture. As such, Heliotropes not only confirms the obvious centrality of the sun to our earthly existence, but also speaks to its otherworldly resistance to full comprehension and singular representation.
James Case-Leal, William Cordova, Angeles Cossio, Marsha Cottrell, Chris Duncan, Igor Eskinja, Rosemarie Fiore, Nicolai Howalt, Owen Kydd, Gustavo Prado, Hanna Sandin
Installation view, Courtesy of Geary Contemporary